Why You Should Listen:
David Axelrod, best known for being the Barack Obama’s presidential campaign Chief Strategist, hosts this hour-long politically charged interview podcast series. Axelrod interviews previous and current key power players in Americal politics, including Sean Spicer, Donna Brazile, Tony Blair, Rick Santorum Justin Trudeau, and a whole lot more!
Who Should Listen:
Anyone who is interested in politics, especially those who want to know more about the current political climate and gain personal insights from key players.
Episode to Get Hooked on:
“Ep. 49 – Jon Stewart (Live)”
Listen To The BEST Travel Podcast:
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Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She joins David to talk about how growing up in the heat of the civil rights movement inspired her to practice law, the impact of the present reversing of Obama-era policies designed to protect marginalized groups, contemporary race relations in America, her take on Attorney General nominee Bill Barr’s confirmation hearing, and much more.
Miguel Cervantes, star of the blockbuster Hamilton play in Chicago, sits down with David to talk about the years he spent auditioning prior to landing the leading role, the cultural phenomenon the play has become, and his daughter’s unexpected diagnosis with epilepsy – the news of which coincided with his landing the titular role.
Ivo Daalder is the President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the former U.S. ambassador to NATO. He joins David to talk about the decline of American influence abroad and current vacuum in global leadership, the cost of abdicating international cooperation, how growing up outside of the U.S. impacted his appreciation for the United States, and his assessment of contemporary U.S. foreign policy in diplomatic hotspots including China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, and more. His new book, The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership, explores the erosion of American diplomacy and its impact on the postwar world order.
J.B. Pritzker, governor-elect of Illinois, joins David to discuss the unique challenges facing the state and his priorities moving forward, what surprised him upon meeting Donald Trump during the December governors meeting, and – despite his family’s storied wealth – the poignant series of events that struck the Pritzker clan when J.B. was young.
Congressman Eric Swalwell represents California's 15th district and serves on the House Intelligence Committee. He joins the show to discuss the House investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, what the incoming Democratic majority in the House means for President Trump, and his ambitions for the 2020 race for president.
Howard Wolfson is the former Deputy Mayor of New York City, counselor to former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chief strategist and communications director on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and currently leads the Education division of Bloomberg Philanthropies. He joins David to talk about his mother’s battle with chronic depression, his decision to abandon journalism and pursue political strategy, the New York City media market and Donald Trump’s instinctive mastery of it, his experience working for Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and Michael Bloomberg – and the possibility of a 2020 presidential bid from Bloomberg.
Political journalist Al Hunt, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, joins David to discuss his time covering Watergate, similarities and differences between Trump and Nixon in light of potential impeachment, and his own future in journalism.
Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, joins David for a televised edition of the Axe Files to discuss how Democrats should take on the Trump administration, the biggest challenges of leading the Windy City, the Emanuel family dynamics that impelled him to the highest levels of U.S. government, and more.
Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, activist, author, and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides legal aid to prisoners lacking effective representation. He joins David to talk about his experience growing up in a segregated county in southern Delaware, the national narrative of racial difference prevailing even after the Civil War, its implications on present-day politics, and his personal mission to provide legal aid to those disenfranchised by the U.S. criminal justice system. His best-selling book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption," chronicles the true stories of inmates on death row that Stevenson represented.
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, sits down with David to talk about how a rejection from Harvard Law School paved the way for his meteoric rise as a media executive; his break up with NBC; the health scares that nearly claimed his life; and his unique perspective on Donald Trump–whose reality TV career he helped launch. Zucker shares his philosophy of the modern news model, and CNN’s role within it, in the age of Trump – and much more.
Amanda Carpenter is a conservative commentator, author, and former senior communications advisor and speechwriter to Senator Ted Cruz. She sits down with David to discuss the challenges of being raised by a single mother, the sports injury that fatefully led her to journalism, Trump’s rebranding of the Republican Party, her take on Beto O’Rourke’s unlikely campaign against Sen. Cruz, and more. Her book, Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us, draws on her experience as a top aide to Sen. Cruz to deconstruct Trump’s manipulative “fake narrative” strategies and prescribes ways in which to withstand it.
Chris Dodd is the former and longest-serving U.S. Senator from Connecticut. He joins David to talk about the influence of his late father, Sen. Thomas Dodd; the formative friendships he forged and lessons learned throughout his nearly four decades of serving in Congress; his motivation behind co-authoring the Dodd Frank Act, a massive piece of financial reform legislation; and why he believes there is reason to be optimistic about the future of American politics.
Former President of the United States Barack Obama sits down with David in Hyde Park for a special live taping of the Axe Files. Their conversation touches on the Obamas' life in the Hyde Park community, the sacrifices his family made for his political career, his biggest regret from his time in the presidency, the politics of race in America, increasing political polarization, and much more.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joins David on the Axe Files on CNN to discuss the shifting dynamics on the bench after Brett Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation battle, her personal ties to Puerto Rico and whether the response to Hurricane Maria was adequate, and her journey from the Bronx to the highest court in the land.
Mark Salter is a longtime advisor and speechwriter to Senator John McCain. He joins David to talk about the early literary influences that shaped both his and his late boss’s political philosophies, the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s vice presidential pick and its broader political impact, the life and legacy of John McCain, and why Salter believes Trumpism will lead to the extinction of the Republican Party as we know it.
Gloria Borger is a political pundit, journalist, and columnist who currently commentates as a chief political analyst for CNN. She sits down with David the day after Tuesday’s midterm elections to share her take on the outcome and why she believes we are experiencing a realignment in American politics. The conversation also spans Borger’s foray into journalism and the formative experiences she’s faced throughout her life and career: from entering Colgate University as part of the first class of female students, to the challenges she’s faced as a woman in political media.
Jen Psaki is the former White House Communications Director and White House Deputy Press Secretary under President Obama. She joins David after the midterms to discuss the implications of the results and their impact on the political landscape as well as Psaki’s personal political journey: from knocking on doors for Governor Vilsack in Iowa to helming the Obama communications shop in the White House.
Bodybuilder, actor, and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger joins David for the Axe Files on CNN to talk about his rise from a humble Austrian village to an American cultural icon and his views on contemporary politics, the #MeToo movement, and more.
Author and journalist Steve Brill joins David to talk about his new project NewsGuard, which uses journalism to fight fake news, as well as his long career in business and journalism.
Steve Schmidt is former Republican campaign strategist, who notably ran the 2008 John McCain campaign for the presidency. Since the election of Donald Trump he has left the Republican Party to become independent and appears as a commentator on MSNBC. He joins David to discuss the fateful nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate, the connection between her and Donald Trump, as well as his storied career in politics.
Jonah Goldberg is an author and columnist for the National Review. He joins David to discuss his roots in journalism, how a family tragedy shaped his view on the War on Drugs, and his criticisms of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
The first episode of Underdog: Beto vs. Cruz. To hear future episodes from this podcast, find it in your podcast app and subscribe or visit apple.co/beto.
Jeff Weaver was the campaign manager for Senator Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. He joins the show to discuss Sanders' unique appeal to voters, what it was like to run against Hillary Clinton, the landscape of 2020, and more.
Mary Katharine Ham is a journalist and conservative commentator on CNN. She joins David to discuss fake news, Nikki Haley, the cultural issues dividing the country, and the Republican Party's Faustian bargain with Donald Trump.
Khizr Khan is a Gold Star father best known for his iconic speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention honoring his late son, Humayan Khan, a U.S. Army captain killed in the Iraq War. He joins David to discuss what led him from poverty in Pakistan to the pursuit of law in the United States, the experiences that informed his belief in American exceptionalism, his son’s military service and the day he died, and the impact Donald Trump’s rhetoric towards Muslims and immigrants has both domestically and globally.
Ana Navarro, GOP strategist and political commentator for CNN, joins David to talk about how her Nicaraguan upbringing shapes her view of U.S. immigration policy, the impact of the evolving landscape of the Republican Party and what she dubs the “Trumpification” of the GOP, and how the increasingly tribal nature of our politics is shaping institutions from Congress to the courts.
Steven Pearlstein is a Pulitzer Prize-winning business and economics columnist for The Washington Post. He joins David to chat about his beginnings in business writing, how to interpret the country’s record levels of deficit and present state of the economy, and the potential impact Brett Kavanaugh will have on the Supreme Court. They also discuss Pearlstein’s new book – Can American Capitalism Survive? – which explores how American capitalism has lost its moral legitimacy.
Chuck Todd is a longtime political journalist and current host of NBC's Meet the Press. He joins David to talk about his father’s struggle with alcoholism and the impact of his premature death; the celebrification of politics and the 21st-century media strategy he thinks works; and what he believes to be both Donald Trump’s greatest strength and greatest weakness.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock joins the show to discuss the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, how Democrats can win back voters in rural states, his work on the opiod epidemic, money in politics, and more.
Roberta Jacobson is an American diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico until May of 2018. She joins David to discuss the diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Mexico, the Trump administration's relationship with the United Nations, her work normalizing relations with Cuba under the Obama administration, and more.
Peter Sagal is the author of The Incomplete Book of Running and host of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. He joins David to discuss a variety of topics including getting passed on by the Harvard Lampoon, appearing on Jeopardy as struggling writer in Los Angeles, his early work as a playwright, and crossing the finish line just minutes before the attack on the Boston Marathon.
Bob Shrum is a longtime Democratic campaign strategist and speechwriter. He joins David to discuss his new Institute for the Political Future, volunteering for Citizens for Kennedy as a college student, how to marry a candidate with a message, and much more.
Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts and civil rights lawyer, author, and businessman, sits down for a special televised edition of The Axe Files on CNN. He talks with David about his upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, the significance of the 2018 and 2020 elections, his take on the Trump administration, and whether or not he plans to run for president in 2020.
Susan Glasser is a preeminent political journalist with nearly three decades of reporting experience spanning foreign policy, domestic politics, and war correspondence. She joins David to talk about her experience as co-chief of the Washington Post’s Moscow bureau under the auspices of the early Putin regime; what she gleaned from conducting the first interview Vladimir Putin granted to American correspondents in 2001, and how authoritarian qualities endemic to Putin’s Russia undergird aspects of American politics today.
Pod Save America co-host and former speechwriter for President Barack Obama Jon Lovett joins the show to talk about the art of speechwriting, his experience working with Hillary Clinton prior to joining the Obama White House, and what the future holds for Crooked Media.
Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee joins David to discuss the major economic policy decisions under Bush and Obama, the ongoing trade negotiations with Mexico, how the government can effectively intervene in a changing economy, and his strategy for beating Ted Cruz in a debate.
Mike Quigley is the U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 5th congressional district, serving on the House Intelligence and Appropriations Committees. He joins David to talk about the importance of local politics, the challenges of working in a highly polarized congressional environment, and what Russian interference portends for this administration.
Dean Baquet and Marty Baron, the Executive Editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post respectively, join David for the Axe Files on CNN to discuss the challenges of covering the Trump presidency, the unprecedented attacks on the free press, the power of journalism to change history, and the trajectory of their storied careers from reporters to editors.
Averell “Ace” Smith is a political opposition researcher whose career has spanned campaigns for Kamala Harris, Jerry Brown, and the Clintons. He sits down with David to talk about the ways in which political research is an essential craft to get right on campaigns; the unheeded letter he wrote to Hillary Clinton prior to the 2016 campaign, and about his new book on Satchel Paige, The Pitcher and the Dictator.
Judy Woodruff is a longtime broadcast journalist and current anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour. Judy sits down with David to talk about the regional blind spots afflicting network news, the relationship between Trump and Fox News, and witnessing the assassination attempt on Ronald Regan.
Part two of our Special Olympics series. Anne Burke, founder of the Special Olympics and a Supreme Court Justice in Illinois for the First Judicial District, joins David to talk about how coming to terms with her own disability undergirded her decision to help those with special needs, why Eunice Kennedy’s use of the word “unacceptable” defined Anne’s fight for the cause, and how adopting several foster children from abject circumstances shaped her world view.
Part one of this week’s two episode series honoring the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. Timothy Shriver is the Chairman of the Special Olympics and son of legendary public servants Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. He sits down with David to talk about growing up in a family nestled in the public eye, the little-known impact of the “forgotten” Kennedy sibling, Rosemary, and why Tim has devoted his life’s work to leveling the playing field for people with special needs.
Former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu rejoins the show in this extended version of a conversation from the Axe Files on CNN.
Dan Pfeiffer is a former Senior Advisor to Barack Obama, co-host on the Pod Save America podcast, and author of the book Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump. He joins David to discuss his time in the Obama White House, the balance between civility and protest, the Supreme Court battle, and more.
John King Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education under President Obama, sits down with David to talk about losing his parents at a young age, the impact of the Trump administration's affirmative action rollback, and how getting booted out of his high school ultimately motivated his decision to devote his life to improving educational outcomes for students.
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia is a clinical psychologist who in 2015 became the Executive Director of the Cook County Jail, the largest jail in America. She was the first mental health professional to run a jail in the US. The Cook County Sheriff calls the jail the largest mental health institution in the country. Nneka joins David to discuss her own experience growing up with an incarcerated father, her time at the Cook County Jail, and her new role with Chicago Beyond, where she will focus on how to better support children with incarcerated parents.
Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, joins David for the Axe Files on CNN to discuss the ongoing battle at the border, the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, the Mueller investigation, and Republicans’ relationship with the President.
John Farrell, award-winning presidential historian and journalist, joins David to chat about why local newspapers now struggle for survival, his work on the Boston Globe’s famous ‘Spotlight’ team, and why he thinks our current political climate is a product of the Nixon era.
Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, joins David to talk about growing up as a liberal activist in a conservative town, her unique philosophy on newscasting in the Trump era, and lessons she’s learned from her lifelong battle with cyclical depression.
Ray Mabus, former U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Governor of Mississippi, joins David to talk about his upbringing in the heart of the South during the Civil Rights movement, what Mississippi‘s shifting political landscape portends for 2018 and 2020, and the reality of U.S. military preparedness in the face of global conflict.
Tom Donilon, former National Security Adviser to Barack Obama, chats with David Axelrod about his experience running President Jimmy Carter’s delegate operation during Ted Kennedy’s 1980 convention challenge as a 23-year-old, why he believes the U.S. pulling out the Iran Nuclear Deal was the worst diplomatic move since the Iraq War, and why a strategy that focuses on bilateral deals poses a structural problem for U.S. foreign policy interests – particularly when it comes to China.
Ronan Farrow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New Yorker, former State Department official under President Barack Obama, and author of the new best-selling book War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. He joins David to discuss his experiences growing up in a famous family with 13 siblings, his formative years working in the State Department under the wing of legendary diplomat Richard Holbrooke, and his near-thwarted efforts to publish the blockbuster account of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers—credited with spawning the international #MeToo movement.
Savannah Guthrie is a journalist, attorney, and co-anchor of the NBC News morning show Today. She recently sat down with David to talk about the impact of losing her father at a young age, how her Christian faith undergirded her journey from high-school slacker to Georgetown law standout, and her take on former Today co-host Matt Lauer’s firing following a slew of sexual assault allegations.
James Clapper is the former Director of National Intelligence and the author of a new book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence. His long career in military intelligence spans some of the most significant national security challenges in U.S. history, including Russian interference in the 2016 election. James Clapper joins David for discussion on his life of service, the impact of Russia on the outcome of the election, what can come of a summit with North Korea, and much more.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, in an extended conversation with David Axelrod from the Axe Files TV show on CNN, talks about her formative experiences in the law as well as her tenure as acting Attorney General and the legal travails of the Trump administration.
Michael McFaul is the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and author of the book "From Cold War to Hot Peace," which chronicles U.S.-Russia relations during the Obama administration. He joins David Axelrod to talk about his path from Montana to Moscow, his early involvement in Democratic movements, Putin's Russia, and much more.
Former congressman and novelist Steve Israel joins the show to discuss his new book on the gun lobby, the future of gun reform, the Democratic Party's chances of retaking the House, and more.
Renowned chef and humanitarian Jose Andres joins David to talk about his love of cooking, the political situation in Catalonia, his disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and much more.
Staff writer for the New Yorker Jeffrey Toobin joins David to talk about working as a prosector in the Oliver North trial, covering the O.J. trial as a journalist, the Mueller investigation, and more.
Journalist and Russian Pro-Democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza discusses Putin’s Russia, the Magnitsky Act, hope for a democratic Russia, and more..
Former Senator from New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte discusses her decision not to endorse Donald Trump, her early career as a prosecutor, counseling Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation process, and more.
Michael Avenatti, the high-profile attorney representing Stormy Daniels, joins David to chat about how the loss of his father’s job when he was a teenager fueled his own ambitions, his passion for racecar driving, the slew of hard-hitting legal cases he’s been involved in, and what he thinks the outcome of the Stormy Daniels case will be.
Former Congressman Tom Perriello joins David for a conversation on the direction of the Democratic Party, big ideas for 2021 and beyond, lessons he learned in Sierra Leone, and more.
Senior Political Editor at NBC News Mark Murray joins David to discuss the nationalization of politics, Paul Ryan's departure from Congress, what's in store for Republicans during the 2018 midterm elections, and more.
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado joins David to discuss the hardships of governing under a Republican administration, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, his bipartisan blueprint to fix health care, and much more.
Former U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad joins David to discuss his childhood in Afghanistan, what went wrong after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the future of conflict in the Middle East, and more.
Labour MP and former party leader Ed Miliband joins David to discuss the political climate in Britain, his ongoing battle with Rupert Murdoch, lessons from his 2015 defeat, and more.
President of Emily's List Stephanie Schriock joins David to discuss how growing up in a mining community influenced her politics, her groundbreaking work on the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, and the wave of women running for office in 2018.
Major Garrett, Chief White House Correspondent with CBS News, chats with David about the most important story he ever covered, his time at Fox News, the sources of friction in Trump's White House, and more.
NBA Hall of Famer and TV analyst Charles Barkley joins David to talk about his journey from the segregated South to the NBA, why Trump-era politics “disgust” him, and whether NCAA athletes should get paid.
Andrea Mitchell, anchor and Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News, joins David for a conversation about upheaval in Trump's State Department and the new dynamics that will govern Trump's foreign policy moving forward, looking ahead to a potential face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong-Un.
Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps joins David to talk about what it took to become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, his battles with depression, and more.
CNN television host Chris Cuomo joins David for a wide-ranging conversation on his decision to go into journalism, how his family name held him back, his father's legacy, and more.
Pete Wehner, author and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, joins David to discuss Trump's relationship with the Evangelical movement and the weaponization of faith in politics.
Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast "With Friends Like These," joins David at South By Southwest to discuss her career in journalism from Wonkette to MTV and how an attempted suicide seven years ago in Texas changed her life and led her to turn to faith.
Pod Save America host Jon Favreau joins David for a live show in Austin to discuss his time as a speechwriter for Barack Obama, looking ahead to 2020, the future of progressive politics, and more.
Film director and producer Jay Roach joins David to talk about his transition from directing comedies to political films, #TimesUp in Hollywood, converting to Judaism, and more.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake joins David for the Axe Files on CNN to discuss what drove him out of the Senate, how his Mormonism informs his views on the Muslim ban, whether he thinks Trump will face a primary challenge, and more.
Former White House spokesman Jay Carney joins David to talk about covering an attempted coup in Russia, how the job of press secretary has changed under Trump, his current role at Amazon, and much more.
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson joins the show to talk about his battle with cancer, a wake-up call for the GOP, his work on PEPFAR, and much more.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh joins the show to talk about his past struggles with addiction, labor unions in the 21st century, his commitment to DACA recipients, gun control, and more.
Lawrence O'Donnell, journalist and host of MSNBC's The Last Word, joins David to discuss his rough encounter with the Boston Police Department, the car accident that changed his life, his work on The West Wing, his new book, and much more.
Journalist and CNN anchor Jake Tapper joins the show to talk about cartooning at Dartmouth, his date with Monica Lewinsky that helped launch his journalism career, moderating the second Republican primary debate, his new novel, and more.